By Tanita Matthews
MEET THE man hitting the gym to save his STUMP after doctors REFUSED to operate on it and told him it would DIE OFF naturally – after the return of a BLOOD CLOT that already took away half of his leg.
Former road worker, Ben Lovell (41) from Halifax, West Yorkshire, UK, was a fit and healthy father of two when he began to experience cramps in his right calf in February 2017.
He went to see his GP who put the cramps down to sciatica, a pain caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve, which runs from your hips to your feet.
Five months went by with no improvement for Ben who was rushed to Bradford Hospital on July 31, 2017, after his foot turned white and tests revealed that there was no blood circulating to his foot due to a blood clot in his leg.
In September, Ben was given a seven-hour bypass surgery in an attempt to save his leg. The procedure was unsuccessful, and Ben was told that to have the best chance at living a normal life, he would need to have his leg amputated. On November 29, 2017, Ben underwent surgery to remove his leg. Back at home after his surgery, Ben struggled to adapt to life as an amputee.
“Having to come home and adapt now to living life with one leg was just hard, just very hard,” Ben said.
“Going upstairs you’re having to go up on your bum; there’s no more just getting up and going to the toilet as you normally would, I’m hopping about going into the kitchen to make a brew, that was a hard time. When I went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and then realised, I couldn’t get the tea back into room so I had a breakdown.
“I mean I was a fit healthy lad, I worked seven days a week and all of a sudden I’m dragging myself across the floor of my bedroom.
“I went through probably a good twelve months of being low. I turned to drugs, alcohol, suicidal thoughts.”
Ben was due to marry his fiancé, Laura (33), in November 2018, but less than four weeks before the wedding, a trip to the doctors almost put a halt on the day when a lump in his groin revealed a second major blood clot blocking off circulation to both of his legs which had to be treated with another bypass.
By 2019 Ben’s life was turning around. He had continued to rehabilitate and regain confidence, starting his own company that provided shoes for amputees, and attending a programme hosted by a mental health charity to promote wellbeing and fitness.
“My left leg cleared with a heparin drip and my right leg needed another bypass. I managed to walk down the aisle six weeks later and we got married,” Ben said.
“I’d had a really good year in 2019, and then on my wife’s birthday, which was in September, we were going out for a meal for dinner and I popped down to the doctors and she couldn’t find a pulse in my groin again.
“My femoral artery, which is your main artery in both your legs, the one for my stump is completely blocked all the way from my stomach all the way down to my leg.
“The only thing keeping my [amputated] leg alive at the moment are the little blood vessels and they [doctors] don’t know how long that’s going to last for.”
Ben claims that doctors are reluctant to perform more surgeries to save the remaining functionality of his stump, a decision that has prompted him to seek healthcare privately or abroad.
“It was like a massive kick in the teeth,” says Ben.
“I’d gone through so much to get myself up and back to where I was, having my confidence back and getting back out there, then to be told that I’m fully blocked and there’s nothing they could do, I couldn’t get my head around it.
“I’ve spoken to doctors, specialists and professors and they all say my leg, as it’s been blocked for twelve months now, should be dead. It should be of no use to me whatsoever, but I can still do what I can do because I’m pushing that blood into it,” Ben said.
“I can do more now than I ever could with two legs because I’m pushing myself a lot more.”
Despite being told that his stump would die off naturally due to insufficient circulation, Ben has remained devoted to exercising to push blood around the area and keep it functioning. As well as this he has dedicated time to helping others in a similar position keep their spirits up in the aftermath of tragedy.
“I never would have done a lot of the stuff that I’m trying to do now – I’m a completely different person. I love being an amputee, now if my leg was okay and I wasn’t in pain, it would be the best thing in the world that ever happened to me,” he said.
“Every time I go into the hospital, I end up talking to all of the new amputees that had amputations that day.
“When you’re in hospital you get physios coming down and saying you’re doing well but that’s coming from someone with two legs, and without being disrespectful, they don’t know how hard it is. Nobody knows how hard it is or what you’ve gone through unless they’ve experienced it.
“Life goes on, you’ve lost a limb you’ve not lost your life, you’ve lost a leg but you’ve still got another leg, you’ll get a prosthetic and even if you don’t get a prosthetic you’ve got crutches there’s no stopping you from getting out and doing stuff.
“If you stay positive and you‘ve got a positive mind, it’s going to help with your rehabilitation- one hundred per cent.”